Smog Emergency Alert: WALHI Urges Smoke Handling and Law Enforcement Efforts for Corporations

Press Release Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia


Jakarta-The hope for forest and peatland fires did not occur again after the great events in 2015, disappeared. Although the figure has declined in 2016 and 2017, the fear in 2018 will be widespread. WALHI data that was processed from various sources recorded from 1 January to 14 August 2018, there were 2,173 hotspots, including the highest in West Kalimantan reaching 779 and Riau as many as 368 points. Unfortunately, from the hotspot data that we overlaid with licensing maps, it was found that some hotspots were in 230 concessions in IUPHHK-HT, 85 in IUPHHK-HA, 122 at HGU. Apart from inside the concession, we also noted the distribution of hotspots in the peat hydrology unit area (KHG), which is a priority area for restoring peat restoration and prevention of fire. The data above shows that there has been no significant change from the previous crisis, corrective policies against mismanagement of forest and peatland ecosystems have not occurred despite the fact that the government has issued a peat restoration policy, one of which is issuing Presidential Regulation No. 1/2016 and Government Regulation 57/2016 regarding the protection and management of peat ecosystems. The forest and peatland fires that occurred this year are reminiscent of a large number of homework, the result of mismanagement of forest governance and peatland ecosystems in the past. Unfortunately the progress is stagnant, far from the expectations of improving governance and law enforcement. Anton P Widjaya, Director of WALHI West Kalimantan, stated "the fact that this year the hotspot is very high in West Kalimantan, explains that claims to improve peat governance that have been carried out in West Kalimantan have failed. This reality once again explains that peat restoration, without law enforcement for corporations is nothing". Director of WALHI Central Kalimantan, Dimas Hartono added the fact that "in Central Kalimantan peat drainage still occurs in several concessions for oil palm cultivation, this activity should not have happened if the government acted decisively against the corporation". Khalisah Khalid, Head of the Campaign and Network Development Department of WALHI National Executive stated that "the biggest challenges in the problem of forest and peat fires and their handling are the strong corporate actors who have been behind the forest and peat fires. The law enforcement commitment that had been raised by the President in 2015 and early 2016, was further weakened in the name of overdue, so that corporations increasingly felt the special treatment, and even continued to make efforts to disobey the law ". Law enforcement is more of an administrative sanction that does not have the slightest deterrent effect on the corporation. The irony is that law enforcement that should be aimed at corporations that have violated the law has turned to targeting indigenous peoples, local communities and farmers. Statements from the security forces such as "shot dead the arsonist ", showed that the security forces failed to see that forest and peatland fires were structural problems caused by law violations by actors with economic power. "Given that forest and land fires is an extraordinary environmental crime from corporate bad practices, and the overthrow of law enforcement for corporate crime, the President is expected to prepare an environmental court," added Kisworo Dwi Cahyono, Director of WALHI South Kalimantan. We certainly do not expect the forest and land fires like the one in 2015 to happen again, with so many victims and even death, because the government is not ready to face the forest and land degradation and its derivative impacts, especially on public health. Therefore, WALHI urged the government to immediately take important and urgent steps. In the short term, the government must ensure that the hotspots do not expand, and immediately implement alertness measures to avoid casualties. "Our hope is that the handling of forest and land fires is not only because there are only Asian Games events and for the good name of the nation, but beyond that, this concerns the safety of the people who have been exposed to smoke from forest fires for dozens of years," said WALHI Director of South Sumatra, Muhammad Hairul Sobri. Finally, we urge the government to see forest and land fires occurring in 2018 as a momentum to release forests and ecosystems that are wider and wider from various buildings and timber gardens. "We issued the President immediately to issue a palm moratorium policy and other large-scale monoculture investments. If not, we are concerned that the reform targets for forest and ecosystem governance will not be achieved, and forest fires will continue to occur, because the damage will be faster than the recovery effort, "Khalisah said in the press release issue. Jakarta, 19 August 2018 Contact Person: Malik Diadzin, WALHI Media and Communication Staff, at 081808131090 For further info from regions, please contact: 1. Director of WALHI West Kalimantan, Anton P Widjaya at 0811574476 2. Director of WALHI Central Kalimantan, Dimas Hartono at 081352704704 3. Director of WALHI South Kalimantan, Kisworo Dwi Cahyono, at 081348551100 4. Director of WALHI Riau, Riko Kurniawan at 081371302269 5. Director of WALHI Jambi, Rudiansyah, at 081366699091 6. Director of WALHI South Sumatera, Hairul Sobri, at 081278342402